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ROCK OF THE TOWER
Twelve bands, four hours, 10 bucks.
Fresno's premier local music showcase is happening again, and this time it's casting its net far and wide.
Bands run the gamut from sexy rockabilly to au-currant hip-hop, and promise something for everyone. Concert organizers Blake Jones (of Blake Jones and the Trike Shop) and Tom Walzem (The Neptunes) have reached out to local label Greytank Records, Fresno State's KFSR, and the Fresno Bee's music writer Mike Osegueda to help put on an inclusive, diverse showcase.
The first Rock of the Tower was held last year, and produced a CD in conjunction with the Tower District Marketing Committee.
"The idea was to sell advertising in the booklet to pay for the CD, and then it would give the Tower District something to sell and would give exposure for the bands. One of the Marketing Committee members said, 'Hey let's have a concert,' and we got the Tower Theatre and that's how it all started," explained organizer Tom Walzem.
The show was a success, drawing nearly 300 people to the Tower Theatre. There were 19 different bands on the promotional CD, which gave the audience a lot to chose from.
"If you didn't like one act, you could just hang out for not that long or go have a beer, which a lot of people did, and then hear a band that you did like," said Blake Jones.
Organizers hope packing so many acts into such a short amount of time will compel people to leave the house and check out some live local music.
"What kind of upset me was there's great live music that's not well-attended and then you have cover bands that are wildly attended and it's like, gosh darn it there should be an audience for live local music because there's really great writers and performers like Blake Jones," Walzen said as he gestured towards his co-organizer.
"If we get enough people together, maybe we can get people off their bottoms and turn off the TV. That's the challenge for all live music, for all people putting on events," affirmed Jones.
This year, instead of a CD featuring bands familiar to the organizers, they've made an effort to reach out to young talent. By partnering with Greytank Records, KFSR, and Mike Osegueda, Rock of the Tower II will bring a wide range of styles to the Tower audience. The hope is people will be more willing to take a chance on live, local music. Jones laments the often poor turn out for local shows, and wonders at the speed an act like the Rolling Stones can sell out the Save Mart Center.
"It's like McDonald's. Wherever you are you know its going to be a certain level of quality. Whether you like that or not, you when you go into McDonald's you know its going to look like this and taste like that," said Jones.
Organizers hope people will take a chance on some new local bands at Rock of the Tower. For the bands, it's a chance to showcase their music and hang out with fellow musicians.
"The backstage was just the most fun I'd had in years because all these bands were together and nobody was being "Mr. Badass," everybody was being non-competitive and very cool," remembers Walzem.
The 15-minute sets force the cream to rise to the top, says Jones.
"You'll play the best of your set list."
Both Jones and Walzem express affection for the music scene in Fresno, and hope that they can shine a little light on their bands, as well as the music of others.
"I think it's for love too. Both of us actually care," said Jones.
"We were the old guys that gave the whole thing credibility," Walzem explained.
"I hate to agree, but I think you're right," laughed Jones.
"We're bridging the gap for Fresno."
Rock of the Tower II takes place Saturday, July 23rd, from 7pm to 11pm. Tickets are $10.